Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Executive Director Response

I finally heard back from the executive director of the program that runs Fiona's group home.  He basically said sorry, no bunny and gee I am sorry that other staff misinformed you.  But hey on the positive side, don't worry because you should feel really good about the fact that we are putting steps into place so something like this won't happen again.

Oh yeah, color me ecstatic!  Not!!  I wrote back that I would like details on exactly what those wonderful step are going to be because I have absolutely no confidence in the program and no faith that when I get an answer from someone that I will be able to be confident it is a real answer and not just what they thought Fiona or I wanted to hear at the moment. I await additional response from him and also from the other agencies I have contacted about the way the program handled this.

What they don't seem to realize is that this is far and away about more than a bunny.  It is about the spiral they put my daughter into by breaking faith with her. She didn't just break her TV that she spent 3 months saving for, she also tried to self harm.  This is something that she only does when profoundly disturbed and it has not happened in over 2 years.  The fact that this level of despair was caused by and agency that is supposed to have her well being in the forefront of their decision making very much angers me.

I have no expectation that I can change the decision. However I can be a person who holds them accountable for the mishandling and that is what I intend to do.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fiona's Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving Fiona spent the holiday with her first mom J.  She wants to spend Christmas with us.  I am fine with this and had reassured her multiple times that I was more than okay with this.  We talked during the week and i wished her a happy thanksgiving early on Wednesday and asked her to give my love to J and the rest of the family when she saw them.  She said she would. She called me Thursday and we exchanged greetings.  All was well.

Friday morning we were bringing down our Christmas decor and putting away all the harvest decorations when Fiona video chatted me.  I was thrilled to hear from her but certainly not looking my best. I had gone out on Black Friday shopping and got home at 2 a.m. By 7 a.m. I was up and we were in the midst of the holiday home bustle.  I (ahem) had  not even gotten out of my jammies.  My hair looked like the wreck of the hesperus.  But I never refuse to talk.  Fi and I talked and then Rob and Fi, Then Rob and J.  Then J and I.  It was good conversation all round, my bad hair and pj ensemble not withstanding.  I was especially glad for Rob who later when we were talking said that his conversations with J are getting easier.

However, the bloom was off the rose so to speak by today.  I got a video call again from Fiona but this one said that she wanted to go back to her program.  Right then.  Immediately.  I explained that she was a long way away and that immediately was not an option but that I would reach out to the staff and make sure someone was on the way.  I was surprised she was still there as I had said that the visit should not be more than Wed. through Friday evening. (by evening back at her program)  My reasoning for this is that I believe Fi needs help in interpreting and charting her relationship with J as a young adult.  To stay too long would I feared lead to her magical thinking of staying there or trying to recreate fantasies that were not realized in her childhood.  It also is a lot to put on J for her to be there for more than the equivilent of a weekend. Fiona needs a lot of monitoring and doesn't typically do well amusing herself.  Left to her own devices she interprets a lack of constant attention as being ignored.

The latter is what happened.  I spoke with Fi tonight and she is still angry about the visit. She feels that extended family ignore her and don't include her.  My gut feeling on this is that they include her to the best of their abilities but that they are not disabled and some of her interests are not those of most regularly functioning adults.

We had a fairly good and very long talk about it all. She did admit that she thought she would just fit seamlessly into things going back for visits.  Once she had a chance to vent I tried to suggest to her that her cousins and even her sister have had years to develop other interests and just as she has shows and interests that are important to her, so do they.  She said she was angry that her sister Crystal does not want a relationship with J.  She feels that is unfair.  I said that part of being an adult was letting Crystal decide for herself what was right for her at this point in her life. It could change.  But it was not up to Fi to be the change agent. She had to focus on her own relationship with J and work on that being a healthy one.

I wish with all my heart that Fiona had a good therapist on board to help with this.  I feel vastly underqualified to sail these waters without professional support.  However she is on a waiting list for therapy due to her medical insurance and has all ready been on the list for a number of months.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday!

Last night after Thanksgiving was over and the house was clean, I went Black Friday shopping with some friends.  I have never done this before.  Mostly I don't like to go to stores to shop.  I tend to enjoy on line shopping.  However there were some black Friday deals at the dreaded Wall of Mart that I knew would be awesome if I could get them. I could get both Fiona and Chet blu ray DVD players at a totally affordable price.

However I was nervous.  I expected hordes of people pushing and shoving, yanking things out of one anothers hands.  Instead, I waited for two hours (yes 2!) in the drizzly rain chatting with Des and Eric and eventually also with the couple behind us in line. People weren't just orderly. They were friendly.  Maybe it was because they thought it was so funny that I was a "Black Friday Virgin!" But I think it is more that people are better than we sometimes give credit for.

Inside the store, it was extremely crowded, but it was well organized.  And in 30 minutes, I found all the items on my list and checked out.  Home in bed at 2:00 a.m. No one tried to steal a blu ray from me. No one assaulted me.  No one was anything but nice.   I need to remember this because the media does such a job convincing us that the reverse is the bench mark of our society.  There are things that are wrong. There are people who are hurtful and who don't value others.  But they are really, in the minority.  Maybe if we believe that good is truly out there it will have more notice taken of it and more weight in the decisions of our world.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

I love Thanksgiving.  I love the gathering of family and friends. Our house bulges with both, and the tables (yes, plural) groan with food options.  There is laughter, joking, and memories are made. I feel extremely blessed.  Also, extremely tired, but I digress.

What I thought on this year though were a couple of random things.  I thought about how we are sort of at a crossroads.  I don't know that next year Rob will be with us for Thanksgiving.  He might be,and he is always welcome. But I think that it is also possible that he may be elsewhere, spreading the wings he has been fledging these past few years of college.  I may be cutting the carrots and potatos myself next year--missing his smile, quiet helpful demeanor and oh goddess, his speedy knife skills.

My father in law and my mom are aging.  It was a huge relief this year to see that Dad seemed better than when we got together this summer.  His recent cataract surgery has had an amazing success on his vision and he barely needs glasses now.  His energy seems better and I hope for many many more Thanksgivings with him, but you never know.  My mom is the same age and she too is slowing a bit.  She has health issues that have begun to impact her abilities and this is troubling to her and frightening to me.

And at a wider level, as I sat in abundance, I was reminded that this is not a day of rejoicing for the native population of our country.  And today, right now, we are again perpetuating injustice against the native population. How can we even think about something as toxic as the Dakota Access PipeLine?  How can we allow water cannons to douse protestors in freezing temperatures?  How is it that we seem unable to learn from past mistakes and continue to perpetuate the same unfair treatment?

So today, yes I celebrated.  But I celebrated not that first Thanksgiving.  I celebrated family.  I celebrated friends, and the strength of love.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hopping On

Mid day Friday I was reasonably sure that the meeting about Fiona's proposed bunny had gone well.  I brought with me to the meeting a paper print out of the email sent to me when the group home house manager first proposed working on this.  I had circled the date, which was just over a year ago. It was immediately evident until I produced the email that this was going to be a brush off meeting.  However the tenor changed immediately when I showed the email and they took copies. The present house manager and the clinician both agreed that to recant on the promise would be seriously detrimental to my daughter.  We brainstormed ways to meet the need of Fi to have a pet and walk around the apparent no pet policy of the home.  The present house manager has a farming background and suggested an outdoor hutch.  I was on board provided they helped defray the cost by making the hutch in a woodworking shop used by some of the male participants in the facility.  (different house, but same overseeing agency)  They were fine with that.  I asked for an explicit accounting of my daughter's personal funds and am promised that I will receive this by the end of this week and that it will detail what the expenditures were.  I am sure that they were FOR her. I am also sure that intentionally or inadvertantly, deposits into the bunny fund envelope were not being made as schedule dicatated.  Fiona always asks staff before spending anything "this isn't from my bunny fund, is it?" and both the clinician and the new house manager admitted freely to this.

I will somehow scrape together money to replace the funds that were misspent so that Fiona would not lose this opportunity due to lack of cash.  I made this clear to the team that met with me.  We parted on what I thought were good terms.

Late Friday night when there would be no way to contact anyone I received an email. It was actually a forwarded email from the CFO who said it was unfortunate that the previous house manager had misrepresented the facilities policies.  He sited a number of reasons why it might not be possible to have the bunny and said I would not have an answer till Monday by days end.  The entire tone of his email is one of shock and like he heard this proposal  for the first time.

I didn't bring EVERY email to the meeting.  I brought the initial email.  Here at home I have the one detailing the house manager's conversation with the CFO and exactly what this person contributed to the discussion by way of a question he had wanted answered by me. The email clearly names the CFO and details the conversation the house manager had with him as well as the resulting query the CFO had for me.   I have also sent an email out to DDS informing them of the situation and the detriment that this scenario could have on Fiona's mental health and emotional stability.

Please stop playing, people.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Strength in the hard times

It's been a hard week.  A hard week for our nation where results show how divided we truly are.  Results that gave hate talk and injustice a seeming legitimacy.  It has been a hard week as a parent, navigating this morass.  I believe in sharing reality with my children but I also believe that we can't lose hope.  We have to believe--I have to believe--that love can and will ultimately triumph.  This is not the final decision and there is much we can do to share and spread love. Much we can do to protect the vulnerable.  We must step up and do this work.  I believe that the best of people is usually revealed in the worst situations.

On a personal level I have had a migraine for 3 days which is wearing my body and patience rather thin.  At this time of year I do more driving in darkness and the headlights are a trigger for me.  It is exhausting and I was too yucky feeling last night to attend a party that I had been looking forward to for a month or more.  End of personal pity party.

Then there have been ongoing changes and concerns at my daughter's group home.  We meet today to discuss the pet issue that had been approved by the previously approved is apparently not approved now.  Last night at 10:30 I also received a call from Fiona and an employee of the home.  Fi has been saving money for the bunny needs and had a budget and now all but 60 of the money is missing.  The group home worker and I are furious because Fiona would always ask before she spent money if this was coming out of her "bunny fund."  Fi can't read a lot and can't do math well; her budgeting strategies are using envelopes to save for things she wants and needs. She has done this several times successfully in the past, most recently saving for a large screen TV for her room.  Part of today's meeting will involve my asking for a full accounting of her expenditures from her spending money for the past 3 months. I will expect receipts and a full explanation of why the plan was not followed.

I feel a huge breach of trust and I know that Fiona does too. There have been big goals that she has worked hard on for this.  She feels that she met these goals "for nothing".  I can't blame her.  I can't ask her to trust people that I no longer trust.

And then last night I learned that Leonard Cohen had passed away.  Hallelujah is my favorite song.  I listen to a zillion different versions of that, my most favorite being Leonard himself and artists who perform it acoustically or "stripped down."  Today I will listen to it and remember that we all have gifts to give.  Leonard gave the gift of music for over 50 years.  Today my gift must be that of advocacy and accountability.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Like many in this country, I am still mentally reeling after this election.  I speak cautiously in my work environment, unsure who may be quietly celebrating the win of their candidate.  Inside, I feel like wailing and screaming.

I worry for my children.  Strong beautiful children of color, in a country whose president elect seems to respect only those who are male white and powerful. I think of my Rob, coming of age in a world that suddenly seems more bigoted and narrow than I ever thought our country could be again.  I think of KC and Lissa whose optimism and belief in a wonderful future was rocked this morning at breakfast when we talked about election results.

  I worry for myself.  I worry that rights I have been able to enjoy as a married lesbian woman will somehow be curtailed,  or lost entirely.

I worry for the work I do.  I work in an industry that provides housing to the more vulnerable members of our society.  Those who are socio-economically deprived. I have worked in this industry long enough to know that our work is always under funded and harder during Republican administrations. I have never had the misfortune of working during a trifecta of Republican control.

I worry for the women of our society.  It is hard to feel that someone who espoused what was charitably called "locker room talk" will really champion equality, will embrace breaking the glass ceiling.  Will women even be continued to choose what happens to their own bodies?

The world is never a certain place but I have always idealistically believed that justice and right could and would prevail.  Today, I am not so very sure of that.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bunny Blues

There has been another round of huge staffing changes at the home where Fiona lives.  It also goes higher up the food change with a clinician change and some new faces in upper management.  I can't speak to whether any of this is good or not. Frankly I liked our last direct care team very much and the 15 months or so that we worked together were some of the healthiest ever for Fiona.  I felt they got her, not just her needs, but who she is as a person, beyond and above all the cognitive and behavioral stuff.  The inside part that so often struggles to be seen and validated.

However I see huge storm clouds on the horizon.  This team contacted me last October about Fiona having a pet.  This was something she asked for and they went up the chain and got approval for.  I was not the driving force in this.  While I know that pets are therepeutic, while i know that Fi adores animals and is good with them, I have had deep concerns over the plan.

Loving pets does not translate into having the ability to provide regular and appropriate care.  However my opinon was not solicited and a plan was put into place.  Fiona has been working the plan which included a certain decreased level in holds, a certain level of cleanliness in her room and other goals.  It has been a long road but she has met these requirements and thought that this Christmas she would be able to buy her bunny.  (part of the goals were also financial and budgeting for the pet care and the supplies the pet would need.

A couple days ago Fiona called me and said she was worried that staff were backing away from the plan to get her the bunny.  I said I didn't think that was the case but that i would contact the team.  I did and my daughter is correct.  The new team point person said "gee it is not our practice to permit pets for a variety of reasons yada yada yada."  We are meeting next Friday as i have the day off to discuss this and develop a plan.  There will be no good resolution to this if they are recanting.

My daughter has had too many instances where people have broken faith with her.  This is going to be another and she will hate every single member of this team forever.  Or at least till they all ride off into the sunset and the next crew come on board.

To complicate things, we just let Lissa get a small dog.  If Fiona can't realize her dream of pet ownership it is also going to create a difficult dynamic here to negotiate.

What the new team does not know is that I have saved every single email to me and from me regarding the pet issue.  Actually I save every email with this agency period. And if I have a phone call, i send a follow up email saying "this is my understanding etc etc. and asking for their confirmation."  I don't know that this will help her get the pet but it will help me if I have to take this up a notch concerning the way they are handling my daughter's care.